That's a good question and the answer to it will vary greatly from person to person. Individuality is the advantage atheists share in this regard. Unlike our theist counterparts, purpose in life is not mandated in scripture.
The only true purpose you have in life is to find and give meaning to it. After long periods of self-examination over a lifetime you reach your own conclusions. This position is one of the few that I have thought about where relativism seems to be an acceptable answer.
If relativism, in regards to the meaning/purpose of life, is not a sufficient answer then I can only think of two possible alternatives (then again, I haven't given much thought to the topic):
1) The purpose and meaning of life has a definite, undeniable answer. Any other meaning(s) you think you have discovered is misguided. [Theists and biologists might agree with this one, though for drastically different reasons]
2) Life has no purpose, any self determined "meaning" is only an illusion created by the individual (or masses) for personal benefit. [This one holds more ground but falls prey to this exception: at the very least, our purpose in life is to die.]
One thing to note is that I define "meaning" as something that one discovers through thought and leads to happiness. Also, it is not bound to morality. There are those who make it their purpose in life to benefit from the misfortunes of others, but that is an entirely different discussion.
So yes, an atheist can have purpose and meaning in their life. More so than their devote theist counterparts in my opinion.
Thank you so very much Rudy. Very thoughtful reply.
You have to discover the meaning for yourself.
There are no gods or anything to believe in or have to follow.
You are free to think things for yourself. No dogma to follow.
The Universe is meaningless pointless as far as the Earth is concerned
we that is the human animal is cruel stupid pathetic and just about the most ugly
on this ball of rock
Alan Hobbes(?) Carter:
Folks who'd been born to violent or abusive parents can be all that.
Their lives can be nasty, mean, brutish and short.
Labels Labels without religion there would be no need to be called an atheist
lets call ourselves morons stupid morons and morons
we live short and meaningless lives full of bullshit incapable of anything but self
whoa.. just realized the 3345 views! ha..
how about one more comment in a podcast:
Life is full of meaning. We all spend multipurpose lives.
It depends on whether you are a nihilistic atheist, doesn't it?
Self the human animal is murderous just look what we do to the weak and defenceless creatures other than to its own kind psychopathic more like
IMO "purpose" is purely a religious concept. We should be just a small component of the ecosystem cogwheel. People with "purpose" and "ambition" are IMO the equivalent of original sin. Unfortunately, because there are so many morons on the planet, I have given myself a purpose, to fight those with a purpose!!! :)